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Name of author Rick Baker, P.Eng.

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10 Thoughts for Firing Good People

by Rick Baker
On Nov 16, 2016
  1. Fire when the cost of presence exceeds its value: that's on the self-serving end of things [...and that is one of the ends]
  2. Fire when bad habits violate master rules: have as few rules as possible; know where lines must be and will be drawn
  3. Fire when troubling attitudes become contagious: protect your Culture
  4. Fire when skills do not keep up with change: not ruthlessly; in planned ways...after training & education have been exhausted, without success
  5. Do it yourself, don't delegate your way out of it: it's about courage and confidence [...these are 'in action', one way or another, for both parties...choose the better course]
  6. Be concise, yet not rushed: no value in prolonging the stress [...and you better experience some stress, otherwise you are too accustomed to firing people and you will not handle it well]
  7. Be calm and clear, and not insensitive: expect emotional reactions and negative feedback and know exactly how you will not react poorly to it
  8. Be kind, and decisive: this is not a time for negotiation
  9. Be overly fair about money
  10. Help the person find a more-suitable job: remember, whenever you are firing people you are firing good people

Controlling the common littlenesses of human nature

by Rick Baker
On Aug 29, 2016

William MacDonald described Benjamin Franklin as a man who could control the common littleness of human nature1. It is clear MacDonald had tremendous respect for the special gifts Benjamin Franklin brought to Mankind, as a citizen of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the United States of America…and the rest of the world.

When MacDonald talked of Franklin controlling the littlenesses of human nature, he was describing Franklin’s innate ability to understand the littlenesses housed in himself and other people and adjust himself in order to get around those littlenesses so he and others could accomplish great things. 

By the mid-1700’s, when he was less than 50 years old, Benjamin Franklin had become a worldwide phenomenon…a true polymath…a true leader of men…a true leader of thought...a leader in scientific thought...a true hero.

Franklin’s accomplishments are mind-boggling.

As examples:

By his early 20’s Franklin was a self-made business success.

By his late 40’s Franklin was recognized [worldwide] as a gifted scientist.

Between those milestones he had:

  • created a mastermind, gathering intelligent friends to philosophize, share ideas and create practical solutions to Philadelphia's problems [his Junto, also known as the Leather Apron Club]
  • created time-management/personal-organization tools and decision-making tools...his pioneer work in this area lives on in legacy, for example - 'Franklin Covey'
  • co-founded an early [if not America’s first] subscription library
  • co-founded an academy that became the University of Pennsylvania
  • led the community movement that funded the first paving of roads in Philadelphia
  • built an international printing empire by creating partnerships, funding & franchising a series of strategically-located print shops 
  • built a successful newspaper - the Pennsylvania Gazette 
  • created a bestseller – 'Poor Richard’s Almanack'
  • created Philadelphia’s first volunteer fire brigade
  • taught himself French, Italian and Spanish languages
  • served as Philadelphia's postmaster
  • invented the Franklin Stove, an energy-efficient heating system still in use today…then refused to patent it because he felt he had benefited from others’ inventions so others should benefit from his

Of course, Franklin was a well-respected civic and provincial politician…long before he became America’s political representative to other nations prior to, during, and after the American Revolution.

Yes – Franklin was one of the 56 who risked the gallows2 by signing the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

And, of course, Ben Franklin did that experiment with a storm, lightning, a kite and a key…and he invented the lighting rod and the best methods of installing it. This invention illustrated to the world that electricity could be controlled, to a degree, by Mankind. That illustration helped introduce a new era of scientific thought and experimentation that is still advancing today. And the lightning rod saved countless lives and reduced, on a world-wide basis, damage and loss of property caused by lighting fires.

On top of these things, Franklin was a commissioned Colonel who built a series of fortresses to protect Pennsylvanians from the French and Indian invasions in the mid-1700's, He personally led Pennsylvanians into battle against these invading forces...he led peace talks with the native Indians and, after the war had ended, he ensured the protection of peaceful Indians from unruly Pennsylvanian mobs.

Benjamin Franklin did much more than these things.

Here's another sampling...

Franklin left Boston at the age of 16, venturing out on his own to Philadelphia. He was a vegetarian during his teenage years. He understood the value of character and he practiced character-building ‘virtues’ throughout his life. This practice started when Franklin was about 20 years old. Somehow, he was wise well beyond his years. Somehow, he understood his ‘littlenesses of human nature’ and he committed to removing his own to full extent he could accomplish that goal. Benjamin Franklin worked on that throughout his life, for over 60 years. Franklin's desire to design and build his character along strict guidelines allowed him to control many, but not all, his ‘littlenesses’. He was candid about his shortcomings and he took a humble stance on his amazing accomplishments. 

Benjamin Franking is a man worth studying…and his practices - his good habits - are certainly worth emulating. 

It is never too late to start emulating heroes.



  1. 'The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:  Now First Printed in England from the Full and Authentic Text', (1905)
  2. These are words Napoleon Hill used to describe the ‘founding fathers’ of what is now the U.S.A. 

Who wants to improve?

by Rick Baker
On Mar 21, 2016

Who wants to improve? 

Some people do - they seek out motivational speakers and courses. These people want something and recognize the status quo isn't going to bring that something. 

Some people don't - they more or less do the same things day after day. They discount or ignore the advice they receive (regardless of how it is delivered). Sometimes, they blame others for their predicament...as victims do. 

But - is that actually true? Do some people truly have no interest in improving? Or, is that just what they say...their style of victim-speaking...their way of justifying lassitude or laziness or lack of ambition?

Regardless, there seems to be a disconnect between the people who want to improve and those who do not. The people within each group tend to understand one another, however, there’s a huge thinking-gap between the two groups. Here’s a couple of key indicators:

  • People who say and act like they want to improve seem to expect everyone wants to improve.
  • People who say and act like they do not want to improve seem to want to left alone …’let be’…not pestered by others who expect them to want to ‘change for the better’.

Most businesses contain people from each group. So, most businesses contain a major communication and performance rift between those who want to improve and those who do not. We will all be much better off if we can span these communication gaps and improve business performance. We can accomplish these improvements…first, with knowledge…then with communication laced with quality questions and quality listening.

How To Increase Profits

by Rick Baker
On Sep 18, 2012

After meeting with and investigating 100's of businesses that have been unable to achieve their profit goals, it is clear there is need for a simple process for profit-improvement. The simple process needs to work for all sizes of businesses and work across a broad range of business sectors.

Here is a simple profit-improvement process that works:

The RAISE Process

Review your issues, objectively

Assessment of situation, people, & process

Insight, to create options & best practices

Support, of your solution implementation

Evaluation against agreed benchmarks


More details...

Review your issues, objectively:

There are 2 ways to be objective. (1) be a possibility-thinking master of self-discipline and (2) obtain unbiased 3rd party input. Definitely, there are ways to expand open-mindedness, possibility thinking, and creative thinking. Here are 2 examples: Edward de Bono's 'Six Thinking Hats' and John C. Maxwell's 'How Successful People Think'. 

Assessment of situation, people, & process:

These are the 3 basic elements of business. They inter-play with one another. Of course, it is all about people. Yet, the differences in people are often underestimated. People create the process. Yet, sometimes they do not do a good enough job explaining what they have created. And, people regularly underestimate the impact situations have on people's behaviour....especially, tough situations.

Insight, to create options & best practices:

Some people appear to possess a natural gift of insight; some people rarely exhibit insight; any person who works at it can develop skills for insight. Business leadership and business development [sales & marketing] are two areas where insight is most essential. Here is an illustration of the importance of insight - the Entrepreneurial Dilemma

Support, of your solution implementation:

It is impossible to implement a solution if your people do not buy into it. It is difficult to make a good consensus decision; it is really tough to implement any decision without people buying in. For some people - and you will need their help - the path to change must contain small steps...at least, at first.

Evaluation against agreed benchmarks:

Business is an iterative process: building things you believe contain value and testing to determine those things actually do contain value. Here, I am talking about value for clients, value for owners, value for employees...i.e., value, as seen from these and other [different] perspectives. And, all these perspectives must be understood and used as performance benchmarks...to define success and guide behaviour. Then, with benchmarks understood - measure, report, adjust, etc.

Ratna Omidvar visits our Region of Waterloo Immigrant Civic Participation - Dialogue on Diversity

by Rick Baker
On Apr 4, 2012

Ratna Omidvar was the Key Note Speaker at our Region's March 22nd Dialogue on Diversity event.


Ratna Omidvar


Ratna is the president of Maytree Foundation, a private foundation that promotes equity and prosperity. Ratna described her organization, "We are not a complaint-driven organization. We recognize problems and focus on solutions."

To provide context for her audience, Ratna briefly described her background: she was born in India and attended university in Germany; she married an Iranian and lived in Iran; and 30 years ago she moved with her family to Canada.

So, Ratna spoke from personal experience when she said "Immigrants have to decode the unwritten rules". People who come to Canada have few problems learning the written rules such as speed limits and instructions on signs. Challenges exist in the many unwritten rules. As examples, newcomers to Canada must learn:

  • You may be curious but some topics are just off limits: by watching how Canadians react, newcomers can learn which topics are safe for discussion and which aren't
  • Politeness, while very important, shouldn't be mistaken for interest
  • Democracy belongs to all, but it belongs most to those who participate in it
Ratna talked straight-up about the Waterloo Region. She enjoys regular visits to our community, including trips to St Jacobs. While she was pleased with our effort to discuss diversity, we still have more work to do when it comes to Immigrant Civic Participation. To have our institutes reflect the diversity of our region we need to see more visible minorities in leadership roles in politics and on governance boards.
However, Ratna was optimistic about the potential for the Waterloo Region. She recommended we follow the formula of the three Is to give legs to aspiration and make reality of hopes and dreams: Intentions, Investments, and Instruments. She then focused on some examples of "Instruments", or some ideas for action.
Ratna shared five good ideas with us:
  1. New language for new times: use words like Inclusion and Inclusive [rather than words like participation]
  2. Work with local institutions where impact can be magnified: they will take your plan from concept to reality
  3. Measure, count, report out: What gets measured gets done; for example, count the number and percentage of visible minorities on civic boards
  4. Don't let perfection stand in the way of goodtake the freedom to experiment with your ideas
  5. Beg, borrow, & steal good ideas: many communities throughout the world are taking action to embrace and help newcomers


Thank you for your very-well-presented thoughts and images, Ratna!



Throughout Ratna's presentation I kept thinking how broadly her advice applies. It applies to people in general; it applies to people at work...people doing business. While there are many, I will provide one specific example: Immigrants have to decode the unwritten rules. That applies to all people and we see evidence of that throughout workplaces. There is a widespread need to express and clarify personal values and personal rules. If we do not make these things clear then other people can only guess what we are thinking and feeling. We can make it easier on other people. For the sake of better communication and more-prosperous business, we ought to make it easier on other people.


Community | Leaders' Thoughts

Communitech's Iain Klugman visits our Centre For Family Business ["CFFB"]

by Rick Baker
On Dec 13, 2011

"Family business is intertwined with our community."

That's one of the first things Iain Klugman, Communitech's CEO, said when he spoke at CFFB's October breakfast. He talked about the strong legacy of family business success in our community. We enjoyed hearing about how our community showed entrepreneurship from the outset...being off the major trade routes - that's how it all got started.

For many of our members, this was their first visit to the downtown-Kitchener 'Communitech Hub'...and they enjoyed the morning. Terrific venue, a great tour of the facilities, and the opportunity to be updated about our vibrant tech community....a key part of the  entrepreneurship cluster that makes Waterloo Region such a special place.

Iain explained, "Communitech helps tech companies start, grow, and succeed". And he added, "Homegrown economies are made more durable over time" and "This community has a strong history of bootstrapping".

Some Communitech facts:

  • A National mandate...the plan is to be in every major community in Canada
  • A broad mandate...not just helping tech companies, also helping schools
  • An advocate for our community...recently opened an office in Ottawa
  • A champion for digital media...raised $107Million over the last 3 years
  • Currently house 40 companies and help 400 companies
  • Serve as a mentor for other communities: Niagara and Guelph, are examples
What has Communitech learned?
Iain's answer, Communitech has learned the most-important things are:
  • Intentionality,
  • Hard Work,
  • Pulling Together,
  • Thinking Big, and
  • Being Relevant and Valuable to the Customer
[Great lessons and great advice.]
In closing, Iain answered the question,
How can family businesses get involved? 
His advice to family business was: do the best you can do at your business and get involved in community events.
Thank you, Iain!




Leaders' Thoughts | Community | Family Business and CFFB

Copyright © 2012. W.F.C (Rick) Baker. All Rights Reserved.